Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
Living with COVID has given rise to some interesting sleep patterns. I typically find myself awake, for example, around 3 a.m.
Often my mind wanders to possibilities for future columns, and I turn to my phone.
Online searches, as we know, can take on life-of-their-own twists and turns. Thus it was that one recent night I found myself at the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, DC.
This is a rabbit hole, I saw instantly, into which a person could disappear for days. But the LOC is a resource that educates, delights and inspires pride in our landscape, achievements, and people! Better this, I consoled myself, than many of the other rabbit holes that do the opposite.
Meanwhile “America’s Library” led to “America’s Story” led to a feature called “Meet Amazing Americans.”
I skipped over “Leaders & Statesmen,” “U.S. Presidents” and “Activists & Reformers” and went straight to “Writers & Artists.” (You can also explore Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Athletes, Entertainers and more).
Here you can learn how architect Frank Lloyd Wright “looked to Japan,” how photographer Dorothea Lange came to document the abysmal conditions of the migrant workers who traveled in large numbers to California during the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s, how Langston Hughes (“From Busboy to Poet”) became one of the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance, and how Mark Twain came to choose his pen name.